February 28, 2024 The Newspaper Serving LGBT Los Angeles

Melanoma Cancer Vaccine Nearing Advanced Clinical Trials

Small Biotech Company to Carry out Million-Dollar Research

By Keemia Zhang

Dr. Thomas Wagner, founder of biotech company Orbis Health Solutions, has developed a cancer treatment that harnesses the immune system’s natural abilities in the form of a vaccine that has been studied for decades. 

Wagner’s vaccine, personalized to each patient, is tumor lysate particle only, which indicates that the immune system will detect cancer cells like an infection, permitting it to fight against it. 

As part of phase 2 clinical trials, the vaccine has been tested on hundreds of patients with advanced melanoma. According to Wagner’s data, 95% of people given the vaccine – without other treatment – were still alive after three years, with 64% of patients being cancer-free. Cancer-free survival was 60% for stage III patients and 68% for stage IV patients.

Common side effects included redness, pain, fever, and fatigue – typical for vaccine injections.

The vaccine has been under study for over two decades – one patient, Mary Carol Abercrombie, was told twenty years ago that her melanoma was terminal. Abrecrmboe remarked, “I guess that was the first time that I thought, OK, I might not be there to see my son get married. I’m a very positive person, and that was like the cold water in my face.”

After a year-long conventional medical treatment with “horrendous” side effects, her cancer metastasized. Her oncology surgeon, who was working with Dr. Wagner, administered Abercrombie a shot every other month for a year and a half – and has had no reoccurrences since.

According to ABC News, a $100 million Phase 3 clinical trial with a larger scope would ultimately prove that the cancer vaccine would be a “game changer in the field.”  The FDA-sanctioned Phase 3 of the trial, set to launch later this year, will last three years and treat an estimated 500 patients.

Riley Polk, President of Orbis Health Solutions, told the outlet that his father, a victim of lung cancer, tried Wagner’s vaccine and lived for an additional ten years before dying of other causes. 

Orbis Health Solutions’ Status as a privately-held, smaller company has led them to face more financial limitations than investor-backed pharmaceuticals. The success of a phase 3 trial and approval from the FDA will permit the vaccine to treat melanoma patients, while its use for broader cancer is contingent upon the results of an ongoing ‘basket trial’ that treats general tumor patients, as well as specific clinical trials that require years of study and millions of dollars in funding.

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